Best Scuba BCDs For Every Scuba Diving Style

Scuba BCDs, Guides

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Your Scuba BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) allows you to adjust buoyancy throughout the dive as well as hold your dive kit together.

It basically allows you to safely ascend and descend from your dive. It also helps maintain neutral buoyancy and keep you streamline, preventing you from crashing into the bottom or coral.  That’s why it’s an important piece of dive equipment and consider to be part of the core dive gear.

BCD’s aren’t cheap and comes in different styles, sizes, and features to choose from.

So, how do you know what’s the best Scuba BCD for you?

We have done most of the work for you and created this guide to help you make the right choice, as well as a comparison chart and review of the best models.

Let’s Get Started …

What Is The Best Scuba BCD?


The best scuba BCD for you will significantly depend on your diving style, skill level, and where you will be doing most of your diving. For this reason, we have organized our reviews by styles to make your choice a lot easier to find the BCD that right for you. 

If you’re still unsure what to look for in a new BCD, read our detailed buying guide below. 

10 Best Scuba BCD for 2021: Comparison Chart

Below you will find a comparison chart with our pick of the 10 best scuba BCD. Use it to quickly compare still and their most important features. Because lift capacity may vary by size, the values shown below are based on size medium. 

Computer

Price

Style

Lift Capacity

 Integrated Weights

Trim Weight Pockets

Check Price

Cressi Start Pro 2.0 BCD

$

Jacket Style

33.7 Lbs/15.29 Kg

Best Scuba BCDs For Every Scuba Diving Style 1

$$

Jacket Style

29Lbs/13 Kg

2

Scubapro Litehawk Travel BCD

$$

Back-Inflated

29.2Lbs/13.2Kg

Optional

2

Mares Bolt SLS BCD

$$

Back-Inflated

41 Lbs/18.6 Kg

2

Scubapro Hydros Pro

$$$

Back-Inflated

36lbs/16.3KG

2

Cressi Travelight BCD

$

Jacket Style

24 Lbs/10.89 Kg

2

Scubapro Equator BCD

$$

Jacket Style

22.5 Lbs/10.2Kg

Zeagle Ranger LTD BCD Full Black

$$$

Back-Inflated

44Lbs/20Kg

2

Zeagle Stiletto BCD

$$$

Back-Inflated

35 Lbs/15.9 Kg

2

Hollis HD 200 BCD

$$

Back-Inflated

35 Lbs/15.9 Kg

2

Best Jacket-Style BCD

This is the most popular style for recreational diving. It fits more like a vest and inflates in the rear, side, and front. This makes them very stable on the surface and very comfortable underwater.  Below are our best picks for the best Jacket-Style BCD

Cressi Start Pro 2.0

Specification:

Manufacturer 

Style 

Jacket-Style

Weight Integrated

Yes - 20 lbs. (9 kg)

Trim Weights

No

Lift Capacity

33.7 Lbs/15.29 Kg (MD)

Dump Valves

3

D-Rings

4 Plastic

Pockets

2 w/Hook & Loop Closure

Best for

Beginners and Affordability 

This is a great moderately priced BCD. There is not too many bells and whistles to be confusing, but it had enough pockets, D-ring, and adjustment to accommodate the necessities and still have integrated weights. The fit was comfortable, it had good inflation, very balance and stable.

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What We Like

  • Quite affordable and well built design
  •  Excellent size to lift ratio, floats well on the surface
  • Comfortable fit, minimal squeeze when fully inflated
  • Gravity release weight pocket are easy to use
  • Cylinder is stable and the back support is rigid. 
  • Ample padding for added comfort 

What We Don't Like

  • Might be too bulky for traveling
  • Lacks more advanced features and lift for more serious diving
  • No metal D-rings

Sherwood Avid

Specification:

Manufacturer 

Style 

Jacket-Style

Weight Integrated

Yes - 20 lbs/9 kg (M,L,& XL)

Trim Weights

Yes - 10 lbs/ 4.5 kg

Lift Capacity

29 lbs./13 kg (MD)

Dump Valves

3

D-Rings

6 Stainless Steel

Pockets

2 Zippered & 1 Hook and Loop

Best for

Beginner To Intermediate Divers

The Sherwood Avid is a great BCD with plenty of lift, and options on how to carry your weights. The zippered pocket was great to take down my cellphone housing. The trim weight pockets on the back is a really nice feature. My "back-inflated" BC would tip me forward on the surface, but this BCD allows me to stay up right and even lean back wile on the surface. 

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What We Like

  • Affordable price point with high-end quality
  • Great surface floating position with virtually no body squeeze
  • Integrated CQR 3 weight system is simple and easy to use.
  • Very comfortable fit with neoprene padded neck roll for added comfort on repetitive dives. 

What We Don't Like

  • Too big to be used as a travel BCD
  • not ideal for cold water diving
  • Side pocket lack space due to the weight system

Scubapro Equator

Specification:

Manufacturer 

Style 

Jacket-Style

Weight Integrated

Yes - 14.7 lbs (6.66 kg)

Trim Weights

No

Lift Capacity

22.5lbs. (10.2 kg)

Dump Valves

3

D-Rings

6 Stainless Steel

Pockets

2 Zippered Closure

Best for

Recreational/Travel

The Scubapro Equator fits very nicely. However, I found the Octo pocket slightly difficult to use in the middle of the dive. But, the ability to fold it up make it a great choice for traveling. 

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What We Like

  • very comfortable fit with adequate padding where needed
  • Stable on the surface as well a rock-solid double-banded tank security system
  • Plenty of storage and D-ring for your dive accessories 
  • Ease to fold small for easy traveling and storage.
  • Octopus pockets provides a designated place to carry your backup second stage

What We Don't Like

  • Trim weight pockets available 
  • Weight and lift capacity are on the low side. Might not be ideal for more demanding diving.

Best Back-Inflated BCD

Back-inflated BCDs generally referred to as wing BCDs, come with an air bladder that inflates only in the back on either side of the tank —  resembling wings. These are more streamlined and provide better horizontal positioning underwater, but are not very stable on the surface. These are more preferred by advanced recreational divers and technical divers for their incredible lift capacity and freedom of movement.  Below is our pick of the best Back-Inflated BCD on the market today. 

Zeagle Ranger 

Specification:

Manufacturer 

Style 

Back-Inflated 

Weight Integrated

Yes - 36 lbs / 16.33 kg

Trim Weights

Yes - 16 lbs. / 7.26 kg

Lift Capacity

44 lbs. / 20 kg)

Dump Valves

3

D-Rings

6 Stainless Steel

Pockets

2 Zippered Utility

Best for

Experience Recreational or Tech Divers

The Zeagle Ranger is a quality BC. It has enough D-rings for me to clip on two of everything, plus a pony tank. I am very happy that I bought this BC. I am writing this review after using it for the last 2 year with about 60 dives on this BC. 

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What We Like

  • Superbly Comfortable, very durable and well built BCD system
  • Plenty of lift as well as enough pockets and D-rings for you equipment 
  • Plenty of storage and D-ring for your dive accessories 
  • Ripcord weight system makes it easy to dump your weights with a single motion.
  • A modular fit system allows you to custom fit the BCD to your liking. 

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive, but you get a very durable and capable BCD  
  • Might be too much gear for a beginner diver. 

Hollis HD 200

Specification:

Manufacturer 

Style 

Back-Inflated 

Weight Integrated

Yes - 20 lbs. / 9 kg) 

Trim Weights

Yes - 10 lbs. / 4.5kg

Lift Capacity

45 lbs. / 20.4 kg (L/XL)

Dump Valves

3

D-Rings

9 Stainless Steel

Pockets

2 Zippered

Best for

Combination of TECH/REC features

 I fell in love with this heavy duty BCD. It fits just right and is a work horse. There are plenty of d rings for all my accessories. However, the horse shoe air bladder design can trap air on one side. Once you are aware to this, you will find that it's easy to use. My favorite BCD so far. 

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What We Like

  • Spacious pocket and plenty of D-Rings for your accessories
  • Plenty of lift and very stable on the surface
  • Soft comfortable fit and the crotch stop the BCD from riding up 
  • Rugged and durable construction ensures this BCD will last a lifetime.  
  • Back-Inflated design provide more balance and freedom of movement once under 

What We Don't Like

  • A bit bulky for regular travel 

Zeagle Stiletto 

Specification:

Manufacturer 

Style 

Back-Inflated 

Weight Integrated

Yes - 24 lbs. / 10.9 kg

Trim Weights

Yes - 16 lbs. / 7.26 kg 

Lift Capacity

35 lbs. / 15.9 kg

Dump Valves

3

D-Rings

5 Stainless Steel

Pockets

2 Zippered

Best for

Warm and temperate water diving

I have done over 400 dive with this BCD and think it's amazing. It is Lightweight and easy to travel with, but tough enough to take a beating. It works great in both warm and cold water and fits very comfortably. Very durable design, if 

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What We Like

  • Comfortable, rugged, and easy to use
  • Packs easy, can be use for local diving and traveling 
  • Plenty of space and D-ring for all you equipment and accessories
  • Integrated rip cord weight system makes it easy to dump weights in an emergency. 
  • Durable designed provides extra protection when diving in closed environments

What We Don't Like

  • Does not support double tanks
  • Yellow weight pocket must be purchase separately, however many divers find them unnecessary.
  • Utility Pocket are located too back to be used easily.

Best BCD for Travel

These BCDs are designed explicitly for the traveling diver. They are generally made from lighter materials, dry fast, and are designed to be able to pack easily. In order, to make them lighter and more compact they might lack some features and comfort.

Scubapro Hydros Pro

Specification:

Manufacturer 

Style 

Back-Inflated 

Weight Integrated

Yes - 10.957 lbs / 4.97 kg

Trim Weights

Yes - 9 lbs. / 4 kg

Lift Capacity

36lbs/16.3Kg

Dump Valves

3

D-Rings

4 Stainless Steel

Pockets

Modular/add-on

Best for

Those who dive at home and abroad

Recently upgraded my old BC and this is Amazing. I has a super low profile, adjusting buoyancy control is easy, and the ability to customize to the BC is a nice touch. I put 2 1lbs in each trip pockets and it feels great. I can see myself diving with this BCD for many years. 

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What We Like

  • Modular customization and comfort. Can easily transform to a travel BCD 
  • Very durable design. No zippers or Velcro, Injection molded Monprene gel harness also makes it tough as nails.   
  • Dries Instantly, great for the traveling diver
  • Near zero inherent buoyancy for greater control

What We Don't Like

  • No quick release weight pockets incase of an emergency 
  • Quite expensive

Cressi Travelight 

Specification:

Manufacturer 

Style 

Jacket-Style

Weight Integrated

20 lbs. / 9 kg

Trim Weights

2 Pockets (10 lbs. / 4.5 kg)

Lift Capacity

 20.2 lbs. / 9.2 kg (MD)

Dump Valves

3

D-Rings

4 Alloy 

Pockets

2 Zippered 

Best for

Travel BCD that does not sacrifice on features

this is the second Travelight BCD I have purchase in the past 5 years, I am a big fan. This BCD is everything it claims to be. The best feature for me is the ability to fold up the BCD and it's lightweight, which makes it great for travel. For the price, it is a excellent comfortable and functional BCD.  

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What We Like

  • Excellent lightweight jacket-style BCD that easy to pack and travel with.
  • Float great on the surface, and additional trim pockets  provide excellent balance and trim underwater.
  • Comfortable fit with a padded back pad for added back protection
  •  2 full size zippered packets. Larger than what you would find on your standard travel BCD.  
  • Full integrated weight system for stability

What We Don't Like

  • Sizes might run a little bit small

Scubapro LiteHawk

Specification:

Manufacturer 

Style 

Back-Inflated 

Weight Integrated

Optional

Trim Weights

2 Pockets

Lift Capacity

29.2Lbs/13.2Kg

Dump Valves

3

D-Rings

4 Aluminum

Pockets

2

Best for

Those how travel to dive

When your trying to save weight (as in traveling), This is the BC to go with. It only weights 5 pound dry, and gives you complete freedom because its flotation is in the back. I used the trim pocket to dial in my trim perfectly -- no matter what sized dive tank I used or additional gear attached to by BC. I only problem I have is that the D rings are about 1 inch instead of the standard 2 inches. 

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What We Like

  • Lightweight, compact, and easy to pack makes great for traveling 
  • A very low profile back-inflated system reduces drag and increase your range of freedom
  • 3 dump vales allow you to easily dump air from pretty much any position.
  •  2 rear trim weight pouches allow you to balance your weight to get the best swimming position.
  • 4 aluminum D-rings situated throughout the BC provide convenient attachment points for your additional gear.

What We Don't Like

  • Optional quick-release weight pockets will add to the cost
  • D-ring are about 1inch instead of the standard 2 inches

Beginner’s Guide To Buying A Scuba BCD

Buying a new BCD can be daunting at first glance. There is a lot to consider when choosing the BCD that’s right for you. A few things you would want to consider are your budget, the style that works best for your type of diving, weight capacity, lift capacity, fit, and comfort.  

Types of BCD

There are basically 3 different styles of BCD. There is no right or wrong style.  The one you choose will depend on your level of diving and personal preference.

Jacket-Style BCD – This is the most common style of BCD. When inflated it wraps air around your waist, back, and shoulder. They are very stable on the surface of the water, making them a great choice for beginner divers. However, an improper fit can cause squeezing when overinflated. 

Back-Inflated BCDs – As the name implies. Only an air balder on the back is inflated, which frees up space in the front allowing the diver to move more freely when fully inflated. While they are great at keeping you horizontal underwater, on the surface it can be difficult to stay vertical when inflated. These are great for more advanced diving or those transitioning over to technical diving. 

Back Plate and Winged BCDs – These styles of BCD are generally preferred by technical divers but are now rising in popularity among recreational divers. They are modular allowing you to customize your BCD to the type of diving you will be doing. They are also able to accommodate multiple dive cylinders and allow you to choose an infinite combination between the back-plate and wing system.  

Other Style of BCDs

Sidemount – Evolving from cave diving, Sidemount diving has recently become popular. It allows you to carry your dive tanks on your side or under your arms. They are very popular with technical divers because it allows you to get into tight spaces. It’s also great for divers with a bad back because it shifts all the weight from the back to the sides.  

Women’s BCD – As more women because divers, manufactures are now designing BCDs that specifically contours to the female body.  These are generally smaller, lighter, and the shoulder straps tend to curve away from the chest or completely removed.  The overall length of the back is also reduced so the dive tank does not rest on the base of the spine. 

Travel BCD – For the intrepid explorer, these are lightweight and can be packed down small, however, they are not as durable as standard BCs as the material used is a lot lighter than the normal ones. The material is robust enough for regular use though, and it is super easy to pack. Just bear in mind that you won’t be able to carry lots of extra weights and most travel BCDs don’t have enough pockets or clips to carry much extra equipment, so if you are a diver who likes their accessories, then perhaps this is not a great choice for you!

Lift Capacity

Now that you’ve decided which style works best for your type of diving. You need to know if your BCD will have enough lift capacity to keep you floating on the surface while wearing all your dive gear. For recreational diving, most BCDs have enough lift capacity to keep you on the surface. However,  when you start to dive with multiple cylinders and extra tools for commercial or technical diving, you will require extra lift.

Fit and Comfort

A BCD should fit you like a comfortably–fitting coat; it should allow you to move freely without binding or slipping.

The ideal BCD fit includes:

  • Snug, but not tight around your mid-section and arms/shoulders
  • Straps should cinch across your body comfortably, but shouldn’t have slop or feel constrictive
  • Hoses and valves should be easily accessible and within reach.

Integrated Weights

This allows you to take your dive weights in pouches and install them directly onto your BCD. This means you don’t have to wear a separate dive belt with weights strapped around your waist. Most integrated weight systems as designed to be easily dumped in case of an emergency. 

Trim Weight Pockets

These are generally located at the back of the BCD on either side of the cylinder. These allow you to move some weights away from the front and distribute them around the BCD to get a nice horizontal position underwater.

Pockets

You also want to make sure that your BCD has enough pockets for the dive that you will be doing. If you’re planning on doing most of your diving in tropical waters, one or two pockets will be okay to carry things like your Fish ID and sales. For diving in colder water or technical diving, you will probably want to carry more equipment that might not be able to fit in one or two pockets. That’s where D-Rings come in. 

Number of D-Rings

D-rings are used to attach and carry additional dive gear to your BCD, like SMBs and reel or spare mask. Basically, stuff that you cannot always fit in a tight pocket.  D-rings over your shoulders are often pre-bent outwards to make attaching clips much easier, while does near the waits normally are straight and lay flat against the BCD.

 

How to Maintain Your BCD?

  1. 1
     Be sure to rinse your BCD though with fresh water after every use. You should rinse outside as well as flush out the inside.
  2. 2
     You should let the BCD dry completely after rinsing. Keep it out of directly sunlight and heat as much as possible.
  3. 3
    Store away in a cool dry place partially inflated.  Remember to remove all the weights from the pockets.

What is your favorite BCD?

Do you have a favorite BCD? What do you like about it? Let us know in the comments below. 

Continue Reading

Do you want more scuba diving gear recommendations? continue reading these articles below:

Dive Computer | Scuba Regulator | Wetsuits | Scuba BCD | Dive Knife | Dive Mask | Scuba Fins

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